Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Comey memo may prove to be a smoking gun for Trump


United States president Donald Trump has accused the media of unfairly targeting him and has vowed to continue his agenda as president, in his first public comments following reports that he asked FBI director James Comey to halt an investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn.

It was just a small part of a big conspiracy, directed by an increasingly paranoid President Nixon, to sabotage his opponents, spy on Democrats, and keep the White House from leaking.

The odds on Mr Trump leaving office before the end of his first term shortened after the Comey memo emerged yesterday, according to bookmaker Betfair.

Top White House officials knew the bombshell report on the Comey memo was coming two hours before the New York Times posted it online, and the president angrily retreated to his residence upstairs within 75 minutes of the story going live. At that point, the White House would basically have to argue that Comey created a fictitious paper trail without a clear motivation.

The White House has denied reports that Trump pressed Comey to drop an investigation into Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

The fact that the president apparently said he "hoped" Comey would end the Flynn investigation rather than more directly ordering it "makes for a weaker but still viable case", said Christopher Slobogin, a criminal law professor at Vanderbilt University Law School.

The New York Times, which reported the existence of the Comey memo on Tuesday, notes, "An F.B.I. agent's contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations".

Trump reportedly told Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go".

"I have accepted their recommendation, and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately", Trump wrote to Comey.

What experts and many lawmakers do agree on is that the report is worthy of an investigation.

Trump knew Flynn was under investigation weeks before inauguration
The Senate intelligence and judiciary committees both sent requests for Comey's documents, detailing his conversations with Trump. Ralph Abraham of Alto said he would like to see Comey testify before Congress and that he will go into it with an open mind.

Earlier, in a sign that some Republicans could be reassessing their support for the USA president, Jason Chaffetz, the Republican head of the House oversight and government reform committee, said he had written to the Federal Bureau of Investigation demanding all "memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings" related to Mr Trump and Mr Comey's communications.

"Nobody knows where this really goes from here", a White House official said.

The Comey memo revelation was met with alarm on Capitol Hill Tuesday night, not only among Democrats but with several Republicans as well. Trump was already under scrutiny for the firing of Comey, who was investigating the administration's ties to Russian Federation. He testified during the Clinton impeachment and serves as the lead defense counsel in the last impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate for Judge Thomas Porteous.

In a scheduled press conference on Wednesday, the speaker of the House of Representatives said it was important to focus on facts.

Flynn's transition from longtime campaign surrogate to National Security Adviser was short-lived. "I say to all my colleagues in the Senate, history is watching", tweeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

The associate also confirmed an account from the Times that Trump vented about media leaks during his conversation with Comey, and that the president expressed support for seeing reporters in prison.

"I just found a memo I wrote a year ago. I wouldn't want to answer a hypothetical question".

The Senate intelligence committee on Wednesday asked Comey to appear before the panel in both open and closed sessions.

"We've tried tonight to get Republicans to come out and talk to us, and there are not Republicans willing to go on camera tonight as of yet", host Bret Baier said. "Lots of chatter from Ds and Rs about the exact definition of 'obstruction of justice'".

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